I love writing but I despise academic writing. How we’re taught to write throughout our secondary education and college sets us up to fail. Educators have lectured a writing process which absorbs and demolishes our creativity for far too long.
We’ve been taught to write unnecessary content that we aren’t passionate about. We build our sentences with unneeded adjectives to enhance the tone of our papers, even when we aren’t always sure of what we're discussing; we know nothing better than to talk about what we don’t know with words that we're unfamiliar with.
I can’t recall the last time I was assigned an essay and it wasn’t required to meet a word or page count. Educators fail to realize that students own the capability to write creatively, clearly and concisely but instead we’ve been taught to write fuzzy, wordy and to overall deviate from creativity.
We’ve been forced to learn to succeed. While in secondary school, students are told they must do well on standardized test to get into college. Meanwhile, they're taught a format of perpetuated redundancy, ultimately leading to the issue of acquired filler language, which is then carried into college.
I was excited to attend college when I was in high school. I anticipated the writing to be different but my courses unrelated to my degree program required reinforcing the awful techniques I learned in high school. Unfortunately, our bad habits are developed and students who don’t aspire a career in writing may never obtain the chance to break them.
Rather than focusing on grammar issues, comprehension, organizing our ideas and communicating them concisely, the foundation of writing is taught to be its format. This is where the system fails English education. In college classrooms, grammar mistakes are only a slight percentage of the grade which lead to no correction in future assignments.
In consequence of needing to reach a limit, we suffer from generalizations; professors recognize the issue as they write on our papers to be more concise, but how can we? The attempt to reach a word or page limit is stressful. Generalizations come into place when there’s nothing more for us to discuss but we find ourselves short of the word limit.
Although some educators may think a word count will make our writing more concise, I think otherwise. I find myself writing in circles after so many pages. No matter how specific I attempt to be, I feel like my writing always contains a generalization to meet the requirements.
“Call me simple-minded, call me anti-intellectual but I believe that most poor scholarly writing is a result of bad habits, of learning tricks of the academic trade as a way to try to fit in. And it's a result of lazy thinking. Most of us know that we may not be writing as well as we could, or should,” said Rachel Toor in her article Bad Writing and Bad Thinking. Toor establishes the connection between the bad habits we’ve become victims of and our writing skills.
I wish we could introduce a new way to teach academic writing because it’s only setting us up for failure; it’s teaching bad habits and not conveying what writing is truly about.